For Ismelda Ornelas, peak season begins the last week of January.
“I’m as busy or busier than Christmas on Valentine’s Day,” said Ornelas, postmaster of the Valentine, TX, Post Office.
For more than 30 years, the small West Texas town has held an annual contest among local students to design a customized Valentine’s Day pictorial postmark. Ornelas won the contest in 2001 when she was in middle school, and her nephew won last year.
Valentine is one of several romantically named Post Offices across the nation that are all about PDAs — pictorial displays of affection — in the weeks before Feb. 14.
Senders place preaddressed valentines with the appropriate postage in larger envelopes and mail them to these offices, where the contents are canceled with the special postmark and sent on their way.
The Valentine Post Office is a one-person operation, so Ornelas personally cancels between 10,000 and 15,000 valentines each year.
“The repetition of the stamping really works my arms and abs, but I enjoy playing Cupid,” she said.
Other Post Offices with names fit for the holiday include the Venus offices in Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas, an Eros Post Office in Louisiana and the office in the village of Romeo, MI, which served as the site for this year’s Love stamp dedication ceremony.
Romeo Postmaster Stacey Isman said there has been “overwhelming response” from customers seeking her office’s Valentine’s Day postmark.
Like Ornelas, though, she’s proud to honor a local tradition.
“That’s what we do. We spread the love. It’s just wonderful that we’re able to brighten someone’s day,” Isman said.
Alex Stubbs, who served as Romeo’s postmaster for 26 years, is credited with introducing Romeo’s postmark in 1994. For several years, he coordinated with the Juliette, GA, Post Office — which has since closed — so customers could receive postmarks from both Romeo and Juliette on their valentines.
When he isn’t working, Stubbs — who is now postmaster in Leonard, MI — enjoys spending his time with his own sweetheart: his wife, Deborah, a letter carrier in Roseville, MI, who has worked for USPS for 44 years.
“Between the both of us, we have served this wonderful organization faithfully for 85 years with pride,” he said.
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